Clearly, the same fellow (there can't be more than one such person, can there?) who comes up with those saccharine "messages" in your average Hallmark/Archies/whathaveyou greeting cards, has also been employed by the AP State Police to jazz up their website. This cousin of Madeleine Bassett is possibly to be found in the musty, file-smelling depths of the police commissionerate, occasionally referring to castor oil stained copies of the Gettysburg Address type documents, thoughtfully chewing on a pen and dribbling ink, while he comes up with such gems as "...with you...for you...always". He is kept in residence through the elegant and time tested ball and chain mechanism. His incarceration makes him crabby and irritable ever so often, and therefore has to be fed through a system of underarm bowling.
This post is not about Mr. Hallmark. Aeons ago, on our way back from Why Naad, an incident happened in that den of vice, Bangalore bus station. We lost cash, credit cards, license(s), PAN card etc. Mostly our fault, for leaving the wallet on the enquiry counter, like dangling a juicy full toss...
Preliminary enquiries indicated that to replace license and PAN, we would need that dreaded piece of literature that emanates from the bowels of police stations, the FIR. Being Newtonian (refer to Law I (of motion)), we let things be. After decades of living without any ID proof apart from passport, and having entered a new phase of joblessness, we got our act together and decided to start the process for replacing license and PAN card.
The whole PAN card replacement process, it turns out, is a total breeze. In the year or so that we sat on our butts, they made the whole thing automated, web-ified and so on, and all one has to do (if one has a photocopy of the original PAN card/PAN issue letter) is go online, fill in a fairly simple form, pay by credit card, take a printout, attach mugshot, mail it, and wait. Observe carefully that there is no mention of police or FIR.
The license replacement procedure, on the other hand is a pain in the posterior. One apparently needs an FIR. According to the AP Motor Vehicles Rules (1989), Chapter - II (Licensing of Drivers of Motor Vehicles), Rule 15 (Intimation when license lost or destroyed and application for duplicate) (yes, we are like this vonly), all one has to do is fill in Form LLD, pay the fee, and hey presto. No mention of FIR. However, that High Priest of RTA Shrines, the "RTA agent", tells various family members that an FIR is a necessary precondition for getting a duplicate license. So we girded our loins (disgusting as that sounds), and found out that the following steps needed to be executed:
- Pay a fee of Rs. 100 to the Police Department at your friendly neighbourhood eSeva centre.
- Take receipt (from Step 1 above), copy of lost license, and a letter addressed to the Inspector of Police in charge of the police station (PS) with the necessary details, and propagate rectilinearly to the PS.
- Submit forms, get signatures vagera ityaadi, and you should be able to pick up the thingy.
- Went to eSeva and paid Rs. 100. Duly pocketed receipt.
- Next day, showed up at the Begumpet PS, bright eyed and bushy tailed, with the necessary (or so we thought) paperwork.
- Inspector gaaru informs us that they need a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Police Control Room to issue the papers.
- *sigh* Set off for the control room. Asked at the building downstairs (where people were lined up paying challans) as to who one needs to approach to get the NOC. Directed to multi-storey building.
- Asked the "helpful", "enquiry" chap in the lobby where one needs to go. Directed to 2nd floor.
- Asked vacant eyed individual, directed to the "Computer Section".
- Asked Bakaasura, and he says, "Your lucky day, dude. I'm da man. However, you needst go downstairs and get Ms. Phoolandevi to sign on your application."
- Went downstairs and after several enquiries found oneself at the end of the line, back at the challan counter.
- Paperwork is swallowed by one set of hands, does the rounds, and is spit out of another window by another set of hands.
- Hurried to Bakaasura. He starts filling out the NOC, and subtly (not) angling for pocket money.
"You see, yours is a Vizag license, and we can't actually issue this NOC here."
"But my friend from Bihar got his license renewed in Hyderabad."
"Ah, that's different, we're allowed to do that."
"What do you do?"
"What did you study?"
"BE civil engineering, saar, Madras, saar."
[We'd taken care to wear our most unobtrusive check-shirt, khaki pant, for the harmless citizen look.]
Before one could say "Ix", he'd pocketed Rs. 20 and given us the certificate. We were mortified. Ears got all warm and shiny from shame and anger, at having copped out, at not having the gumption to face up to this ogre and get our schtuff done without under the counter transactions.
With burning heart and a conscience that was totally sitting on left shoulder (mit halo) and frowning down, we headed back to PS.
- We resolved to not bow to such sliminess any more (at this juncture, we must mention that we were in no inconsiderable part influenced by our readings at Fanaa, and handed all the little, sweaty (by now), pieces of paper to the Inspector, who quickly scribbled something in Elvish, and signed.
- Handed papers over to Grima looking clerical type (out of uniform) in the Computer Section.
- Grima says, "Oh, you need to photocopy all these. Go to Prakash Nagar and get it done and come back quickly."
- Off we went, in the mid-afternoon blaze. Duly photocopied, trudged back to PS.
- Grima takes papers, points to seat in reception area and says, "Wait". So we did.
- For an age. Went back into the "Computer Section", whereupon he said, "Oh, it won't get done tonight, come back tomorrow morning." (the code words had started). Confirmed that he would be done on the morrow, and went home at 5:00 ish.
- Girded tiggas (yes), and came back next morning, 11:00 ish.
- Grima showed up after a bit, and said, "Wait in the reception." and disappeared.
- Waited for close to 2 hours. SMSed the bejesus out of Kenny, who seemed to be engaged in cutting edge research (i.e. equally jobless). Kenny had lots of good advice ("You should've taken a book.", "You should've at least taken a notepad and a pen, and scribbled Thoughts.", "You should start muttering RTI audibly, so that they know who they're dealing with (i.e. citizen)." etc.)
- At 1:00ish, went back in and found Grima. Who strikes forehead with palm and says, "Tchah! Come back in the evening, you'll definitely get it then." In the manner of Alistair Maclean characters, a medium sized blood vessel on the edge of our temple (Om...) had started to pulsate. We says to ourselves, "OK machii, this is it. Sisupaala got 100 chances, you'll get one more in the evening." and went home.
- Meanwhile, perusals of the AP State Police Department's copious RIA page had revealed that the Assistant PIO is the Inspector of Police himself, and that the PIO is the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Begumpet Division). We duly noted this.
- Went back in the evening. Waited in reception.
- After an hour so of gazing at the vacuous faced guy in the reception, barged into "Computer Section". Grima, was missing.
- Another out-of-uniform, clerical type character (looking very harassed), says (to himself), "Why did this moron (Grima) ask people to come back the very next day?" and (to us), "Come back day after tomorrow."
- That was it. We lost it, my precious. Barged into Inspector's office. Waved papers. Expressed outrage. The dreaded (hopefully) "RTI" phrase was about to be emitted, when, to our utter and pleasant surprise, the gentleman (Insp.) calls a third Computer Section guy and tells him to deal with "this" immediately.
- We went back to waiting in reception. Half an hour elapsed, and the suitably contrite Computer Section person comes out, hands us the certificate we need, and out we waltzed, into the sunset.
P.S.: We couldn't find the helpful Inspector after this whole ordeal. We wanted to wring his hands in thanks. In any case, we did the next best thing. Wrote a letter describing the role of his staff in the ordeal, and his in the salvation, and posted it off to him, his boss (ACP) and his boss (DCP).
1. Thanks, Larry.